The Maui fires are a terrifying reminder of the destruction that wildfires can cause. It’s a threat Californians are unfortunately familiar with.
A new report from CoreLogic analyzed how many homes and apartments are at risk in 14 Western states at high risk of fires. They looked at areas’ slope, drought conditions, wildfire fuel, wind and other factors to determine places with the most at-risk residences.
California, unsurprisingly, had the most number of homes facing wildfire risk. The Golden State also had the highest estimated cost for rebuilding after a devastating fire.
Homes in Los Angeles, in particular, “face an elevated risk due to their proximity to forested or undeveloped areas,” the CoreLogic report said. “This geographic placement can pose challenges for firefighting and evacuation efforts in case of a wildfire.”
The metro areas with the most at-risk homes, according to CoreLogic, are:
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim (242,188 residences)
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario (212,921 residences)
- San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad (153,999 residences)
- Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom (102,291 residences)
- San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley (92,824 residences)
Fighting and suppressing fires is expensive, but rebuilding afterward is even more so. The Lahaina Fire caused an estimated $3.2 billion in insured property losses, the Associated Press reported. That doesn’t include damage to properties that were not insured.
In California, the total reconstruction cost of all at-risk homes is about $761 billion.
Based on current climate trends, CoreLogic predicted the cost of wildfires will only grow in the years ahead. The U.S. Forest Service said climate change is making drought conditions worse, leading to more intense and more dangerous wildfires.
“Climate change is leading to conditions on the ground we have never encountered,” Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said last year.
Federal fire officials emphasized the importance of prescribed burns and keeping fire fuels under control to mitigate the harm caused by wildfires out West.